Since making his way out of the South Dakota dairy farm with an undefeated amateur wrestling record and two state championships, Brock Lesnar has built a reputation as perhaps the greatest fighter to ever step into the world of professional wrestling. At just over 6-foot-2 and just under 300 hundred pounds, this physical freak of nature has destroyed expectations of what a human being is capable of. One look at this monster of a man, and you will be left with no doubt that only a fool would ever dare step to him looking to fight.
But hey, wrestling does have a reputation for attracting individuals with more brawn than brains. If you were to line-up every professional wrestler that ever walked this Earth and requested that any man who feels they can beat Lesnar step forward, my guess is that you would get a couple of hundred fierce looking dudes ready to take on The Beast. I’d also wager that Brock would then send the vast majority of those fighters right back up against that wall with a crushed ego to match their skull and ribs.
That wouldn't always be the case, however. Lesnar may be a perfectly engineered fighting machine, but that doesn’t make him invincible. Not everyone that would dare cross Lesnar’s path does so because of a death wish that’s greater than their common sense. In fact, there is a select group of professional wrestlers that would take it to Lesnar in a way that Brock himself usually doles out beatings. Some are strong, some are big, some are skilled and most of them are tough. When going through this list, we are talking about these guys' chances against Lesnar in their physical prime. The one thing that these men have in common is that they are the top 15 wrestlers who would have beaten Brock Lesnar in a real fight.
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15 Ken Shamrock
As one of the first UFC champions to make a name for himself in WWE, It wasn’t long into Ken Shamrock’s pro wrestling career before everyone realized that he may be worthy of his “World’s Most Dangerous Man” billing. Shamrock wasn't the biggest guy in the world or even a fighter that was capable of knocking many of his opponents out, but his submission skills helped him to take down many larger foes that found themselves tapping out before they even processed what happened. Shamrock was a part of the early days of the UFC when far fewer sanctions were in place for the promotion. Lesnar came around when there were far more regulations in place.
Against a foe like Lesnar, all Shamrock would need is one good opening to bring the beast down. There's no way the Shamrock of today would ever take down a guy like Lesnar. We all saw how fragile he was in his fights against Kimbo Slice and Gracie recently, but the Shamrock of the 90s really was the world's most dangerous man. Lesnar has never really mastered some techniques and they'd be exposed against someone like Shamrock.
14 Big Van Vader
The world is full of bar fight stories involving big guys who weren’t nearly as tough as they thought they were, but Vader is not your average big man. As a product of the ultra-stiff world of Japanese wrestling in the ‘80s and ‘90s, Vader learned to not only deal damaging blows but absorb them as well. His in-ring career is filled with tales of brutal matchups that saw Vader and his opponent beat each other within an inch of their lives with strikes that would take down lesser men in an instant. Just ask someone like Shawn Michaels how tough Vader was, as Michaels actually used his political pull backstage to ensure Vader didn't hit him so hard. During their SummerSlam '96 main event Michaels actually told Vader he'd get him fired if he hit him with another stiff shot.
Even in his prime, Vader was not quite the athlete that Lesnar is, but the man’s toughness would allow him to stand toe-to-toe with anyone. Vader was known for legitimately hurting his opponents in the ring as he wrestled a very stiff style. While a match against Lesnar is no picnic, Vader had plenty of practice in hurting people.
13 Tom Jenkins
In the days of catch wrestling when blue-collar men took to the ring to win legitimate matches through any means necessary, Tom Jenkins was the undisputed champion. These were the days before stiff sanctions were placed on contests. It was essentially like the fight club of its day so you have to respect what someone like Jenkins went through in his day.
Tom wasn’t just tough; he was cartoonishly tough. Picture your tough old uncle who could scare anybody in the neighborhood. These days didn't have sophisticated workout programs like the athletes of today have. It was basically, work out until you puke and show up to a fight willing to lay everything on the line.
In his youth, he took at job that required him to bend red-hot 100 lb iron bars during long shifts and he was reportedly fond of spending his lunch break wrestling other factory workers. Because he wasn’t the greatest technical wrestler in the world, Jenkins instead relied on using his superior strength and toughness to simply beat his opponents down. If anyone could beat Lesnar in a straight fight, it’s Jenkins.
12 Perry Saturn
It's a shame that Perry Saturn got saddled with that whole Moppy gimmick because it hindered the career of a man that should be first remembered as one of wrestling’s most dangerous. As a product of the strict training regiment of the equally tough Killer Kowalski, Saturn didn’t take long to establish a reputation as one of wrestling’s most capable workers. He earned this reputation back in WCW.
He could mat wrestle and strike with the best of them, but the true extent of Saturn's toughness wasn’t fully realized until a post-wrestling incident that saw him take a bullet while trying to protect a rape victim. Saturn saw the assault taking place, he did what he felt he had to do to save the woman. It was one of the most heroic acts ever performed by a wrestler and isn't talked about nearly enough. Despite that bullet's cumbersome presence, Saturn kept fighting. If a gun can't stop this man, it’s doubtful Lesnar would. Sometimes there is just a certain "it" factor that someone brings to a fight and Saturn would have brought it.
11 Masahiko Kimura
Masahiko Kimura isn’t just an innovator in the field of judo; the man practically is judo. Many of the fighting style’s most dangerous techniques were either invented by, or perfected by, Kimura. He famously translated his considerable skills to the world of professional wrestling, where opponents soon learned that Kimura wasn’t always willing to cooperate with that whole “scripted” part of the concept. Given that this is the man responsible for gifting the world with many of the same moves that makes Lesnar as dangerous as he is, it’s certainly reasonable to believe that the master could take the pupil.
Kimura was a legend of his time. He fought all around the world, competing in judo matches and straight up wrestling matches. He was such a well versed grappler that even someone of Lednar's pedigree wouldn't have been able to match up with all the knowledge Kimura picked up over his athletic career. Kimura also had a nasty side in him, as he was suspected of conspiring the stabbing of Rikidōzan. Rikidōzan was stabbed by someone with ties to the Yakuza and Kimura was suspected of ordering it due to not receiving a rematch following a loss to Rikidōzan.
10 Bobby Lashley
You’re not going to hear anyone dismiss the man’s technique, but a big part of what makes Lesnar as feared as he is has to do with his raw strength and speed. Professional wrestling hasn't seen many individuals who could possible equal Lesnar on a physical or athletic level. Actually, the only one who comes close is Bobby Lashley. The man picked as Brock Lesnar’s replacement has spent his post-WWE time making a name for himself as a legitimate threat in MMA. There’s room for debate regarding whether or not he’s as good as Lesnar top-to-bottom, but he’s one of the few men in wrestling history that equals Brock physically.
You have to wonder how someone like Bobby Lashley would have done had he been given the opportunities Lesnar had. Lesnar was given a UFC contract almost immediately after pursuing a career in MMA. Lashley meanwhile, has a 14-2 MMA record and has yet to receive an offer from the UFC. Perhaps a fairer matchup for UFC 200 would have been to pit Lashley against Lesnar.
9 Danny Hodge
Danny Hodge is one of those guys that would never make it in the world of professional wrestling today. He had no flash, no flair, no style and little personality. While that was something that wouldn't be tolerated today by WWE higher ups, Hodge had plenty more going for him. What Danny Hodge was, though, was a man ahead of his time.
Had MMA been a thing during the era of Danny Hodge, there is little doubt that this undefeated collegiate wrestler would have risen to the top of any promotion. He was an incredibly gifted technical wrestler who was famous for frustrating his in-ring opponents by casually outwrestling them with apparent ease. Hodge even had a mildly successful boxing career, as he had an amateur record of 17 wins and no losses, with 12 knockouts.
Even at the age of 84, Hodge is still able to crush an apple one handed. Imagine what he could have done to Lesnar in his youth.
8 Stan Hansen
Do you know those old-fashioned tough guys that just look like they could drag you through a world of pain if you even casually offend them? Stan Hansen would be their poster boy if not for the fact that referring to him as a “boy” would likely cause him to launch into a fit of cowbell assisted violent rage.
Hansen is arguably the most successful gaijin wrestler in American history, and the reason that Hansen achieved such success in the land of the rising sun is because the man perfectly embodies the idea of American toughness made popular by Hollywood. He probably wouldn’t even need to spit out his tobacco to put a hurting on Brock. Lesnar's one tough dude, but there's a certain thing about the old fashioned toughness that Hansen brought. Lesnar has made millions of dollars in his career and money tends to take away a certain fire from somebody. This extra fire would help Hansen in taking on an opponent like Lesnar. Injuries eventually caught up to Hansen, but there's no doubt he'd be a handful for Lesnar in his prime.
7 Mark Henry
Wrestling is full of individuals who have been billed as the “World’s Strongest Man.” It’s a popular moniker that promotions have been assigning to a series of performers that might not actually meet that requirement, but are big enough to guarantee that you wouldn’t argue the matter with them. Mark Henry isn’t like those guys. There was a time when you could have legitimately made the argument that Mark Henry was not just the strongest man in the world, but perhaps the strongest man that ever lived. Now, while strength doesn’t immediately translate to fighting skills, Henry was such an unbelievable powerhouse that it’s doubtful even Lesnar could withstand one of his blows.
It wasn't really believable when Mark Henry confronted Lesnar on RAW back in 2014 and was completely manhandled by The Beast. While today, we would probably expect Lesnar to eventually get the better of Henry, there's no way anybody would put Henry away that easily. It'd be interesting to see if Henry could induct Lesnar into the Hall of Pain.
6 Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle is a lot like Mark Henry in that you really need to step away from the gimmick to truly appreciate just how skilled this man is. Amateur wrestling experts have successfully been making the argument for years that Kurt Angle may just be the greatest technical wrestler to ever walk this earth. A big part of what makes him so special is his ability to take down an opponent and keep them down regardless of their size or skillset.
In fact, according to an interview a few years ago, Kurt Angle once challenged Brock Lesnar to a mat-wrestling match to demonstrate why Lesnar’s size didn’t make up for the gap in skills between the two. In the story told by Angle, Lesnar didn’t score a point. That doesn't mean Angle didn't have his hands full.
“We were doing take-downs, and it was very, very tight,” Angle recalled. “Brock showed me that he knows how to wrestle. A lot of heavyweights are big and strong and know how to use their weight, but Brock knew how to wrestle. He was a lightweight who grew into a heavyweight body, and he brought that technique with him. That’s how good Brock was.”
5 Ed “Strangler” Lewis
How do you earn the nickname “The Strangler?” Well, in the case of Ed Lewis, it was due to his obsession with perfecting the headlock. Ed Lewis was convinced that any match could be won by simply finding a way to stop the flow of blood to the man’s brain, and he spent a good part of his career developing new ways to get a hold of his opponent - regardless of their size - and strangling them to victory.
Though Lewis’ size is certainly enough to put him in the “beat-down Lesnar” conversation, it’s his famed ability to completely shut down any competitor that makes him a prime candidate for the most feared wrestler that ever lived. Lewis would have simply forced himself to find a way to take down a guy like Lesnar. Lewis didn't waste any time in hurting his opponents and stated he was simply giving fans what they wanted: "If you put on a good scientific match, they (the wrestling fans) walked out. They want to see slamming." Slam City, b***.
4 Harley Race
Go beyond his considerable in-ring career, and you’ll find that Harley Race’s greatest acts of toughness occurred when the cameras weren’t rolling. Besides the fact that Harley Race is supposedly the proud owner of the world’s strongest grip, there are stories of him performing such incredible feats of bad-assery like punching a block of ice in order to break it up into cubes for a dinner party which only confirm the suspicion that he could conceivably win any fight that you put him in. I’m not saying that Race would win the fight against Lesnar cleanly, but Race would do whatever is necessary to defeat anyone who challenges him.
Race also was one wrestler who had actually slammed Andre the Giant before Hogan. He recalls that slam here: "I had him fully above my head - Hogan got him about chest high. Hogan claimed to get hurt after performing the famous slam - I didn't. I got him in the position and brought his head full through all in the same motion. It's when those pauses come in and that weight is allowed to come straight on you, that you get hurt."
Are you convinced now?
3 Kazushi Sakuraba
I’m glad that Kazushi Sakuraba spent a little time in the world of professional wrestling, because it gives me a reason to include the man who may just be the greatest mixed martial artist of all time on this list. Affectionately dubbed “The Gracie Killer,” Sakuraba made a name for himself in early MMA by dominating some of the biggest fighters in the industry. The man was like Wilt Chamberlain in his prime playing ball against a group of second grade private schoolers. Though his career would eventually fade away, a young Sakuraba would have matched up against Lesnar quite favorably.
One thing's for sure; Sakuraba would have taken the fight to Lesnar and would not wait around for Lesnar to make a move. Sakuraba liked to leave lasting memories for fight fans. "To introduce such fans to a match in which you shut down your opponent without motion, it will leave no memories for them. If it's the choice of a sluggish match that I'll win by decision, I'd rather choose to lose in grand fashion by KO."
Although wrestling fans are always up for debating a great many topics, the one subject that never seems to be argued against is Haku’s status as the toughest man to ever step into a wrestling ring. Wrestling lore is filled with stories of Haku putting the fear of God into any wrestler that dared oppose him as well as stories that involve him completing such Herculean feats as snapping a pair of handcuffs in half.
Whether or not Brock Lesnar is stronger than Haku is kind of irrelevant when you’re talking about a man who reportedly would bite off chunks of people in bar fights. There aren’t enough weights in the world that will help you deal with that. When asked about Haku, Jake Roberts explained his toughness best.
"If I had a gun and was sitting inside a tank with one shell left and Meng is 300 yards away, he's mine, right? Well the first thing I'm going to do is jump out of the tank and shoot myself because I don't want to wound that son of a bitch and have him pissed off at me."
1 Andre The Giant
By all accounts, Andre the Giant was an incredibly nice human being who would have preferred to never hurt a fly. However, for the sake of discussion, let’s say that someone like Brock Lesnar did decide to provoke Andre. In that situation, you could push aside all “tale of the tape” type discussions because they are irrelevant. Andre was strong and tough in a way that most mortal men could never possibly be. The thought of anyone taking him down in a one-on-one fight isn’t just difficult to imagine; it actually may be impossible for such a thing to occur. Andre could conceivably shut down Lesnar simply by holding him back with an outreached arm.
Heck, Andre was able to simply stick his fist in the air to stop Warrior from potatoing him. While Lesnar would be able to tag Andre with some very stiff shots, it would probably take Andre only one good shot to take Lesnar down. Andre was just too durable and manhandling to take down. The only person Andre was ever scared of was Haku and we've already covered him on this list.
There you have it, 15 wrestlers who could have beaten Brock Lesnar in a real fight.
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